In 2010 a Massachusetts judge ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was unconstitutional as it violates the equal protection clause of the constitution in that the law denies benefits to those in same-sex marriages that are available to those in heterosexual marriages.
Today, in a unanimous decision, the federal appeals court upheld the ruling of the Massachusetts federal judge stating that the Defense of Marriage act impedes the state’s right to define marriage.
It’s a step in the right direction, but the case will likely be appealed in the United States Supreme Court and until that time the ruling will not have any effect on gay couples’ access to federal benefits such as filing joint tax returns or collecting death benefits.
On a conference call with reporters, Mary Bonauto, the attorney for the Gay and Lesbians Advocates and Defenders was optimistic saying, “We think today is a great day and look forward to the next round.”
An opponent of the law and representative of the Alliance Defense Fund, Dale Schowengerdt, said that “society should protect and strengthen marriage, not undermine it.”
Both sides now wait to see if the Supreme Court takes the case.
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